1921-S Zerbe Specimen Morgan Dollar, SP65
1921-S $1 SP65 PCGS. CAC. The 1921-S Zerbe proof (or
specimen) Morgan dollars are great rarities in the series, much
more difficult to locate than their Philadelphia Mint counterparts.
Most experts agree that no more than 4-5 examples of the 1921-S
proofs are extant today, from a reported mintage of two dozen
pieces. Stuart Mosher recounted the story of the creation of these
remarkable coins in an article in the July 1955 issue of The
24 Struck, Only 4-5 Survivors
Tied for Finest Certified
"About 10 years ago, Farran Zerbe, father of the Peace dollar and our first American numismatic missionary, told be an intriguing story regarding a branch mint Morgan dollar issued in proof.
"In 1921 he was in California awaiting the arrival of the dies that were to be used to strike the first Peace dollars at the San Francisco Mint. The Mint phoned him that the dies had arrived and he hastened there to see them put into operation. The new 1921 dies had arrived all right but they turned out to be dies for the old Morgan design which had not been coined since 1904, and not the dies for the Peace dollar which he had worked so hard and long to promote.
"Mr. Zerbe told me that he suggested to the chagrined Mint officials that they could assuage his disappointment somewhat if they would strike off a few Morgan dollars from the new 1921 dies in proof condition. They were happy to oblige and manufactured about two dozen which he bought and later handed out to his various coin collecting friends throughout the country. While I have never seen one of these proofs it is logical to suppose some of them are extant."
In the October 9, 1995 issue of Coin World, Heritage chief cataloger Mark Van Winkle presented an in depth look at die characteristics of various branch mint proof Morgan silver dollars. His source was coins in the Anita Maxwell Trust, a collection that included eight different branch mint proof dollars. This piece, a different coin, meets the criteria that was presented:
A. Angling die scratch through the top of the second 1 in the date.
B. Two spots of die polish below the fold in the upper part of the cap.
C. Pronounced die striations over the U of UNITED, the second S in STATES, OF, near the denticles of ME of AMERICA, and from the upper serif of the C in AMERICA to a denticle above.
D. Incomplete die polish on the wreath near each branch.
E. Complete die polish between the back of the eagle's neck and right wing.
F. Sharp die scratch from the third feather under the right wing top to a denticle.
The present coin is a delightful Gem that displays an unusually sharp strike for this issue. The wreath is sharply detailed and the hair strands above Liberty's ear are crisply delineated. The only area of softness is the eagle's breast, which is always a bit flat, suggesting that the detail may have been incomplete on the die. The pristine surfaces show a mixture of moderate reflectivity and cartwheel mint luster with a few attractive hints of pale green and lavender toning. We have not traced any earlier auction appearances of this coin, but it is at least tied for finest certified at either of the leading grading services, and the other SP65 certification event may be a duplicate of this coin. This specimen is a must-have for the finest collection or Registry Set.
The following roster lists the grades of the coins we have traced in their last auction appearances. Current population data shows two SP65 coins and two SP64 coins, all at PCGS (6/13). These figures may include resubmissions, as we do not believe the ANS coin has been certified. Mark Van Winkle remembers seeing what may have been a fifth specimen at the 1979 ANA Convention.
Roster of 1921-S Zerbe Proof Morgan Dollars
1. SP65 PCGS. The present coin.
2. MS64 Prooflike PCGS, possible branch mint proof. GENA Convention Sale (Pine Tree, 11/1975), bought in; American Coin Company (Leroy Lenhart) by 1981; Wayne Miller Collection (Superior, 1/1986), lot 1401; Timeless Treasures (Kingswood Coin Auctions, 11/1999), lot 657; Anita Maxwell Trust of Silver Dollars (Heritage, 8/1995), lot 7509. The Wayne Miller plate coin.
3. PR64BM PCGS. The Classics Sale (American Numismatic Rarities, 1/2004), lot 341; Rarities Sale (Bowers and Merena, 1/2005), lot 1073; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2006), lot 3392; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2007), lot 1149.
4. Proof, Uncertified. A specimen in the collection of the American Numismatic Society, probably originally from Faran Zerbe and the Chase Manhattan Bank.(Registry values: P2) (PCGS# 7348)
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